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Motorcyclist dies in crash after warning barriers removed

A motorcycle rider was killed in a fatal accident on Tuesday morning after he struck a downed tree that was obstructing the road. The fatal accident occurred about 50 miles Southwest of Grand Rapids in Paw Paw Township.

The potential risk to motorist had initially been determined to be sufficiently serious that construction barrels had been placed in the roadway to warn motorists of the obstacle. But at some point those warning markers were removed.

The storms on Monday blew down a number of utility poles and trees in the area. While other downed obstacles had been cleared, this tree remained down overnight on Monday because it was tangled in power lines. The county sheriff says that the barrels were removed at some time during the night on Monday.

It is not clear whether they were removed for some reason by road crews or that they may have been stolen or moved as prank. Whatever the cause, the removal of the barrels created a fatal risk as the tree was not easily visible to approaching traffic.

When the 48-year old motorcycle rider approached the crest of a hill just after six on Tuesday morning there was nothing to warn him that just beyond his vision on the crest of the hill, the tree was still across the road.

The motorcycle rider was pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities indicate that he was wearing a helmet and that speed was not a factor in the crash. He had been thrown from his motorcycle when it crashed into the tree.

Source: The Chicago Tribune "Motorcyclist killed after hitting downed tree" July 12, 2011

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